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Know Your Audience

Updated: Jul 15

Understanding your customer at an emotional, human level will pay dividends.

What's the easiest way to establish a meaningful connection with people? It's truly knowing your audience so that you can tailor your solutions to resolve problems and provide value, both consciously and subconsciously.

When trying to build the connection, first consider who you’re really trying to reach. ​​Who has a problem that you think you could solve? Who shares similar passions to your own? Learning who is most open to your ideas ensures that product development and marketing efforts do not go to waste. Really be clear on the problem the customer has. Often, too many companies try to focus on their product and its features rather than the benefit it offers for the consumer. Ask yourself, what is the end goal for your customer using your products or services. Is it time saved? A more efficient tool to drive revenue? What are they hiring your product or service to do (e.g. what is its job to be done in their world) to alleviate a pain or provide a gain? Whatever the reason is, ensure you really understand their needs and desires from a functional and emotional standpoint. Knowing both will help you craft a solution and story that's meaningful.

Develop Buyer Personas

Once you have a hypothesis of who you’re trying to reach, then you need to determine if there are different subsections of this target audience. If so, one way to segment them is by buyer personas. This representation reflects the data and insights you've gathered about each audience and what makes them similar and different from each other on key attributes such as:

  1. Their purchase journey

  2. Where they spend time online and offline

  3. Emotions when making a purchase

  4. Their hobbies, lifestyle

  5. Their aspirations and ambitions

When creating personas, it’s important to remember that they should be made when there is a significantly different need. Creating too many can create a problem of trying to sell to too many people. Hootsuite and Hubspot have more in-depth content for understanding and creating personas. Definitely capture your insights both verbally and visually when bringing your audience to life. And consider infusing their tone of voice in the copy to really contextualize them.

Here's an example from Skype.

So how do you find your target audience to validate your hypothesis? Conducting market research is an important and often overlooked step in the process. This data can provide unbiased valuable insight into getting to know your audience through a different lens. Your research can take multiple forms. If you're just starting out, network with people who might be your potential customers, and do social listening on competitors' websites/social media sites, forums or community groups to understand the conversations they're having, the advice they're seeking.

If you have a product or service and need to refine your audience definition - send out a survey to customers, ask questions and listen to how they phrase their needs/desires and how well your product or service fits. You can also use your social media accounts to ask questions or share polls. It's important to research all parts of the buyer's journey, from pre-purchase to usage to post-evaluation. You can also use data and insights firms to supplement your research.

Put Your Knowledge in Action

Once you're confident with who your target audience is and what they need and desire, evaluate your communication strategy:

  • Are you clear on what to say and how to say it and reinforce what you stand for as a brand?

  • How does your audience speak?

  • How differentiated are you vs. competitors' brand positioning and messaging?

If you're not sure, develop example headlines and copy lines and test a few to gauge the response. If they spark positive interest and engagement, use them as a guide for future content. Knowing how your competition communicates can identify the areas you need to invest in.

Communication strategies can take a variety of forms, from email, social media, and blogs. It's important to select the mediums where your audience is most receptive to hearing your message and sharing information using their language. Doing so will create a greater likelihood for connection and engagement. Today's customers are seeking personalized relationships with companies that create value for them.

P&G's Proud Sponsor of Mom's campaign reflects how "P&G brands are part of the journey moms of Olympians, and all moms, take with their kids every day. We see how strong moms are in every facet of their lives, and how their children draw on that strength as they grow." (Marc Pritchard, P&G Global Brand Officer,

In the 2016 Rio games campaign, the ad “'Strong' explores the simple human truth that the daily courage moms show echoes at critical times throughout their kids’ lives."

Knowing your audience is critical for all facets of your business. Learning who they are at a human-level will help you build a connection that creates value for you both.

The Brand Evaluator is a joint venture of independent brand builders – Michelle Thompson, BrandSpark Design LLC and Christine Sech, Brave Oak Brand Building LLC. We work with small businesses to help them clearly and meaningfully convey their organization’s value through brand building strategy, design and content that drives results.

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